When it comes to amateur bodybuilding events and competitions, there are few as good as those sponsored by the National Physique Committee (NPC). Not only is the NPC a well-respected organization but they can be a great gateway into the world of professional bodybuilding contests!

So what is a NPC contest like? Lucky for you, I’m here to share my knowledge and experience—so when you enter a NPC contest you’ll have a great idea of what those judges are looking for!

The show is not the contest. Unlike some competitions, most of the judging for individual classes is decided not on the stage but during prejudging. This means that when you see the contestants up on stage for the class competitions they are really just putting on a show—as the judges have already decided. But that changes when it comes time for them to pick a champion from all of the classes: that actually is chosen from the final!

What do you have to do? For an NPC competition, you’ll first do a one minute free-pose (without music). Next you’ll be brought in front of the judges in groups so they can compare your poses.

What kind of poses? There really aren’t any poses you have to do, but most competitors are asked by the judges to strike ones are pretty classic: lat spreads, side-chests, front double-biceps… stuff like that. Keep in mind that the judges can also ask you for any pose—so it’s a great idea to make sure you are familiar with as many poses as you can!

By and large, NPC judges will be looking at you as a complete and total package, instead focusing on single things of things like definition and muscularity. This way they encourage contestants to put themselves together as a whole—which is a great philosophy for competitions as well as life itself!